Life’s a bit different for student athletes
BY MARA KOVAC
OU News Bureau
No matter what sport, the life of a student athlete takes commitment to succeed throughout the four years of college.
“Being a student athlete is like having a full-time job on top of being a full-time student,” said Kevin Korkate, a junior who plays baseball at Oakland University.
A student athlete’s biggest hurdle is time management.
“The difference between a regular student and a student athlete are the time demands placed on them,” said Todd Wohlfeil, director of strength and conditioning.
Student athletes must have the organization skills and time management skills to practice, work out, study, go to class and compete, which includes travel. Plus, they must stay healthy and maintain good sleeping and eating habits while minimizing their chances of injuries.
“Depending on the sport, the pressure to function at the highest level possible is critical,” Wohlfeil said. “They must keep up on all levels so they do not get physically and mentally exhausted.”
All sports have different schedules for competition and practice. Sports such as golf, cross-country, swimming and other individual sports do not necessarily need to meet for full-team practices. This gives those athletes some leeway.
Sports such as basketball, baseball and softball are much different. The full team must be present for all practices, which limits when those athletes can schedule classes.
Figuring out how to schedule classes around these practices takes time. Student athletes not only have an adviser from their college, but also they have an athletic academic adviser.
With the restraints of practice, the university allows student athletes to have priority scheduling. Before this scheduling, a student athlete must have his or her college adviser fill out forms.
“We use athletic monitoring forms to help educate students on how the classes they plan to take will count towards their major and each semester we send athletics a list of how many credits each student has earned towards their degree and how many credits they need total to earn the degree,” said Roberta Rea, academic adviser in the college of arts and sciences.
If a student athlete does not follow the steps properly, eligibility can be an issue. NCAA regulations are strict on the amount of credits a student athlete has towards his or her major.
“The most difficult thing about scheduling class is when a student waits until the last minute to make scheduling changes,” said Evan Dermidoff, athletic academic adviser.
Rules and more rules
In the classroom, the student athletes must maintain a certain grade to stay eligible to compete.
“They are held to a higher academic standard than nonathlete students,” Rea said. “The university has great measures to support their success including an athletic academic adviser, athletic monitoring each year, priority registration and study times.”
Also, inside the athletic center is a room called The Grizz, which is for student athletes to quietly study. Most athletes are required to study for six to eight hours a week.
NCAA regulations have certain grade points averages a student athlete must stay above depending on how far the athlete is in his or her major studies. On top of the NCAA regulations, a coach can factor in specific grade requirements for the team’s players. NCAA GPA regulations (page 5-6)
A coach also can create other guidelines for players. A student athlete’s scholarship contract only is eligible for one year and must be renewed annually. A coach can raise or lower the scholarship for the following year.
If a student athlete breaks a rule, either listed in the student athlete handbook or a team handbook, the coach and athletic director can suspend or cut that athlete.
A coach, however, cannot cut or suspend a player based solely on performance.
Due to NCAA regulations, a maximum practice time for in-season sports is 20 hours a week. This includes travel, competition, practice and workouts. However, some athletes believe that this is not enough and will practice more on their own, which is allowed.
“I’m dedicated, and I have high expectations for myself and want to compete with my team at conference level,” said Marianna Stepp, a freshman who plays golf. “So, I guess when I feel that mandatory practice isn’t enough, I go out and practice by myself to get better.”
During the off-season, coaches can schedule only eight hours of mandatory practice. This is when many student athletes really work to get more physically fit.
“I see most of the student athletes during the off-season,” Wohlfeil said. “Usually, they will be in here three to four days a week for about an hour.”
“Depending on the sport, it takes a certain type of person with the right work ethic and motivation to be a student athlete,” Wohlfeil said.
Student athletes might need to juggle many tasks throughout college. However, they obtain skills they will use throughout life.
“Being a student athlete has given me the ability to work with others, not only in the athletic setting, but also everywhere else,” said Alanna Gerber, a junior who plays golf. “Also, it has helped my organization skills for my future.”Tweet
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